Following his first UFC loss, Cody Stamann (17-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) will return to the Octagon at UFC 235 with a chip on his shoulder.
He’s slated to meet fellow top-15 bantamweight Alejandro Perez (21-6-1 MMA, 7-1-1 UFC) in a pivotal match-up that could determine who gets a shot at a top-10 opponent. And for Stamann, it’s an opportunity to get the bitter taste out of his mouth his loss to Aljamain Sterling left.
“I need to go out and have the performance of my life,” Stamann told MMASucka. “I need to prove to everyone that I’m still a legit competitor and that I still am a title threat. To do that, I actually have to dismantle Alejandro Perez. It can’t be a close fight. I need to show people that I’m another level and that I belong among the elite in the bantamweight division.”
Stamann vs. Perez
Stamann will enter the contest as the No. 11-ranked bantamweight, one spot ahead of Perez in the rankings. “The Spartan” began his UFC career with three straight wins over Terrion Ware, Tom Duquesnoy and Bryan Caraway.
Perez has gone seven fights without a loss since being submitted by Patrick Williams. He has since rebounded with wins over guys like Eddie Wineland, Iuri Alcantara, Matthew Lopez and Andre Soukhamthath.
Stamann was complimentary of Perez, calling him a “gamer” and a smart fighter who’s good at edging out close rounds against tough competitors. However, he believes the last few guys he’s fought were better than Perez.
“Sterling is better and a lot harder to figure out,” he said. “I think Bryan Caraway is a hard match-up for anybody just because of the style he fights and the pressure he fights with.
“I feel like out of any guy in the top-15, Perez is the guy you’d want to fight. Stylistically, I feel like the things he does well are things that I do better. In every single aspect of MMA, I’m better than him. My conditioning is going to be better. If the fight goes into deep waters, I think that my wrestling is a lot better than his. I think my Jiu-Jitsu is better than his. My striking is a lot better than his.”
Stamann has been itching to get back into a fight since his UFC 228 loss to Sterling in September. He got his opportunity when Yadong Song pulled out of his bout with Perez. On four weeks’ notice, Stamann stepped up. He added that he’s been ready to go since Christmas time, and was one of the men who called for the John Lineker fight once Dominick Cruz got injured.
Now that he’s secured the Perez fight, Stamann is eager to show fans and the UFC he’s still one of the best at 135. He says he’s been training to fix all the mistakes he made in his last fight, and learned some valuable lessons, including one post weigh-in.
“I didn’t stay disciplined after I weighed in,” he said. “I ate things I shouldn’t have and I think it really affected my performance in the fight. So, I didn’t feel like I was hitting on all cylinders. More than my training, more than anything else, I think that was the issue. I gassed in the second round and I was so, so well-prepared for that fight. I felt like I could win a 15-round fight. For me to run out of gas in the second round of a fight I felt I was winning, it was concerning.
“I’m not a guy who accepts losing. I’m not one of those guys who goes, ‘He was better than me that night.’ I don’t think that way. Losing absolutely burned me. I’ll think about that fight for the rest of my life. Hopefully I’ll get [Sterling] back some day. I took one thing from that fight is that I’m a competitor. I’m an elite competitor. I know in my heart, that nine times out of 10, I go out and beat Aljamain Sterling had I not made some really stupid mistakes.”
“I’m going after him for 15 minutes or less”
Stamann will get his chance to right some of those wrongs on Saturday, March 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He’s scheduled to fight Perez on the ESPN prelims, which will attract a large audience. He’ll get his chance then to show the MMA world that he’s still an elite bantamweight.
“I’m gonna throw everything including the kitchen sink at [Perez]. I’m going after him for 15 minutes or less. This time around, I’m gonna fight my fight. I’m gonna hit my combinations and take him down whenever I want. One way or another, I’m either going to win all three rounds or I’m going to finish him early.”
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